Falling Off The Turnip Truck

Terry Pratchett‘s character Granny Weatherwax says that, if you’re going to break rules, break ’em good and hard. So when Charlie and I, who are practically vegetarians, fall off the turnip truck, we go straight from blameless herbivores straight to something as fat and salty as possible without actually eating straight salted fat.

I’m talking jowl bacon, people.

I always thought jowl bacon was country food–I mean down-south in the USA country food. My mother, though, was raised in the city (a borderline-southern city, to be sure), and she tells me she was nearly grown before she knew there was such a thing as side meat.

Jowl (rhymes with bowl) bacon is cured and smoked meat from the cheek of a hog. Yes, technically it violates my food taboo against eating heads, but I make an exception for jowl bacon. It’s fattier than bacon from the side of the hog (if you can imagine anything fattier than that) and has a very rich taste.

I now find that it’s also used in Italy, under the name of guanciale, often an ingredient of carbonara. Italian cooks sometimes mince it and render the fat as the first step in making soup, adding a delicious if unhealthy richness to the broth. Joe, our half-Dalmatian/half-Lab, is always delighted when he smells jowl frying because the grease adds a delicious if unhealthy richness to his dog food, too.

ALSO, I have a post up today at the #amwriting website about plotting AND pantsing called Writing By The Seat Of My Baggy Pants. Hop over and take a gander at it, if you will.

WRITING PROMPT: What food did you grow up eating that people have subsequently expressed distaste for? Did that give you a distaste for it? Invent a character to whom that happens, or who resists it happening, or who rediscovers a fondness for a rejected childhood food.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Falling Off The Turnip Truck

  1. Dani G.

    October 26, 2011 at 6:26pm

    I have a hard time eating pork these days – it hates me, too – but I like schmalz to this very day. An old German spread for bread. It’s rendered bacon (and jowl would be perfect for this) with minced onion and after cooking the onion tender and the bacon bits crisp, refrigerated to harden it. You smear it on a good slice of rye bread… nothing else needed. Maybe a little more salt if the bacon wasn’t salty enough. Now isn’t that totally gross? Yum! 😀

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      October 26, 2011 at 6:41pm

      Um yum! I have a jar of olive oil infused with garlic in the refrigerator for just such a purpose. 😀

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  2. sefccw

    October 27, 2011 at 8:51am

    When I was growing up my dad and I used to eat white bread with butter and molasses all the time. Also, we would eat peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, strawberry jam, and banana sandwiches on pumpernickel toast.

    Now, I am diabetic so can no longer eat things like this.

    I had not thought about it much, until the other day when we were talking about favorite foods when we were much younger.

    Really miss those treats now!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      October 27, 2011 at 1:41pm

      That reminds me of sugar bread! White bread thickly spread with butter (well, in our house, margarine) and white sugar. Could it possibly be worse for you? lol!

      Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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  3. Jane

    October 28, 2011 at 9:39am

    Hi. Granny Peyton would cook from-scratch biscuits in a coal fired oven, while preparing local molasses into a blend with carefully chopped homemade butter. The spread goes on the hot biscuits. I can’t even describe the sensation!

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  4. Bodie P

    October 28, 2011 at 5:23pm

    Yay! Granny Weatherwax! I can’t think of anything bizarre I eat, but by a funny coincidence I’m using food and culture as the basis of my writing sequences in the classes I’m teaching this fall. It’s provoking a lot of comment, and my students seem to be fascinated by the cultural differences that exist in our classroom alone. They are also fascinated by the treats that are showing up each week–I’m giving extra credit points for students who actually cook the family recipe they used as the basis for their “how-to” paper.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      October 28, 2011 at 10:26pm

      Ooo! I wish I were in your class! Wonder how your class would like milk soup?

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